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Dogs looking for friends

IBAN NL62INGB0004011891 BIC / SWIFT-Code: INGBNL2A ING Bank-Amsterdam. ActieZwerfhonden Zonnemaire The Netherlands

Sevinc and Crispin

Crispin, a seeing-eye dog….

My name is Sevinc and I live in The Netherlands. My parents come from Turkey but I was born here in The Netherlands. I was born blind.

I went to primary school where I was educated with a special teaching program for blind children. After this I went to secundary school. After graduating I went to a special trainingfacility for 18 months. Here I was taught to independently do the household chores, to learn all the different routes to the grocery store, the mailbox, the trainstation, etceteraOnce I was able to walk the routes independently with a stick, I was ready to apply for a seeing-eye dog. (The importance of being able to know the routes, is because it’s the owner that has to tell the dog where to go to, the dog does not know the routes)

The seeing-eye dog comes from the KNGF Geleidehonden. (Royal Dutch Seeing-eye dog Foundation).

Before a dog can become a seeing-eye dog, he is raised first by a “guest” family. This is where the puppy will get his first basic training and the so important socialisation. He needs to learn to obey, to get along well with people of all ages and with other dogs and animals, he needs to learn how to behave in a store, a train, a restaurant, in short, the dog needs to learn to behave under all circumstances and at any place possible. Also the dog will be potty trained at this “guest” family. Once the first training period is done, the dog leaves the “guest” family and goes to the seeing-eye dog school. At the seeing-eye dog school, the dog learns all kinds of skills to help his future, blind, owner. He learns how to avoid obstacles like garbage bins and bicycles.

Once a person with a visual handicap has applied for a seeing-eye dog, they come to visit him at home. During this visit they asses the orientation skills of the aspirant owner and they form an impression of the aspirant owner’s personality and his home environment. This all is needed to decide which dog will match best with this aspirant owner. This is a very important part in the entire process; a really good match between dog and owner is essential to make a well working team out of them.

Once the seeing-eye dog finishes his education at the seeing-eye dog school, the future owner is invited to spent a 3 week period at the same school as the dog. During these 3 weeks of training, the new owner is taught how to work with the dog and also, very important, how to take care of the dog. After these 3 weeks, the training is closed with some days “home-training”, where the dog and his new owner are in their own environment.

 

At the seeing-eye dog school, they will first have a conversation with the future owner. It is very important the owner will actually be in charge of the dog because dogs, by nature, need a leader. After this conversation it’s time to meet your dog. If this meeting goes well, and you are capable of walking all routes independently, then your application becomes final.

I too, had to spent 3 weeks at the seeing-eye dog school where I was taught how to work with Crispin, the name of my dog, and how to take good care of him. I had to learn all the commands which are many. Once I mastered the commands, I was ready to learn how to walk with Crispin. I had to learn to understand the way he was warning me for obstacles on the pavement (and living in The Netherlands, I can tell you there are very many bicycles parked on the pavement), the way he warned me we were at a crossroad or the way he warned me we were at the mailbox. The more you walk with your dog, the more you gain trust and the easier it gets. These days, I sometimes jokingly say, I would walk blindfolded with Crispin and still trust him 🙂
It wasn’t untill after I had Crispin, that I was able to live independently and Crispin and myself are doing a good job at it. Without Crispin I could not live by myself so he is very valuable to me and to my independence.

And so, a childhood dream of mine was fullfilled. Eversince I was a little girl, I wanted to have a seeing-eye dog but was told for many years that this was not possible. But now I know better and at 21, my dream came true.

Having a seeing-eye dog has many advantages, eversince I have Crispin, it is so much easier for me to go outside and move around. We do the groceries together, we go to the bank together, we mail our letters together, we visit my family together. My commands tell Crispin exactly where he needs to go. It may look like he knows the way, but he doesn’t. He needs me to tell him where to go, and I need him to bring me there. It has become so much easier for me to go to the city, even a crowded city. Crispin guides me through the crowd and around all obstacles.

But beside being my seeing-eye dog, Crispin is so much more. He is my friend, we are inseperable. In the Turkish culture dogs live outside, but not here in The Netherlands, here the dogs live inside with their family. The love of a dog is unconditional and he is always availble, everytime I need Crispin to help me with something, he is there for me.

Crispin and myself play together, we cuddle together and we work together, we share our lives together. In other words, Crispin and myself are best friends. Another advantage is the fact you make contact with people easily. When they see the seeing-eye dog walking next to you, they will talk you sooner since it is an extraordinary sight to see….a dog, so dedicated to helping his owner.

And of course there are some obligations as well one needs to consider. You are fully responsable for your dog and this means you have to take him for a walk 4 times a day even when it rains, snows or when it is cold. You have to make sure the dog gets time to run, sniff and play with other dogs. And then there is the coat, you have to brush and comb the dogs coat. In short, you have to take good care of your dog in every way.

I do not mind this. It comes with having a dog and all the advantages and joy I get from Crispin are outweighing the walks when it rains. Beside, the taking care of your dog, the walks, they are all benificial to me as well. I get to be outside which is healthy and I have some quality time with Crispin when I brush his coat, time where he does not have to work and we can just enjoy being together.

Yes, Crispin and myself, we have become a great team, with love and respect between us.

My hopes are that one day the dogs in Turkey will be better cared for and loved. So these dogs can also show their companionship and their loyalty towards an owner with a visual or physical handicap. These dogs could be helping so many people in Turkey and these people could be helping so many dogs. But I am afraid this may take quite some time…

 

 

With warm regards,

Sevinc and Crispin.